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For years, Mykonos and Sitges were the hottest LGBTQ-friendly destinations on the planet. But now they’ve gone mainstream, and with it a mass exodus of travellers who previously enjoyed their exclusivity. Here’s where to head next – LGBTQIA or otherwise, they’re pretty ace.
Way ahead of its time, homosexuality has been legal in this South American city since 1934, while it conferred full marriage equality in 2013. Not only that, but Montevideo hosted the Global LGBT Human Rights Conference in 2016, and throws a big bash for Pride very year. It looks rather splendid, too, revolving around the Plaza de la Independencia complete with chic art-deco buildings and Instagram-worthy colonial homes. There are dazzling beaches with sparkling waters – lined by loud, buzzing bars packed with revellers – and the club scene is off the hook.
Lost River, US
Lost River is to Washington what Palm Springs is to LA; a weekend escape for a stylish set. Just two hours from DC, this woodsy community of 2,500 is a natural beauty with lush greenery and rolling hills, while businesses such as the Guesthouse Lost River and the Lost River Trading Post are gay-owned and run. There’s a 24-hour gym, pool with cocktail bar (“Sex on the Mountains”, anyone?) and an in-house restaurant serving American comfort classics in a wood-panelled room. It’s a stylish affair – in a mountain lodge kind of way – with stone hearths, leather couches and antler chandeliers. There are no gay bars to prop up on the Main Street just yet, but with rainbow flags already billowing in the breeze, it won’t be long before they arrive to cater to the pink pound.
Everyone wants a piece of Portugal, with travellers realising that this once overlooked country has everything that Spain has – and arguably more. Head straight to the capital of Lisbon for a concentrated dose of everything Portugal has to offer: rickety trams, ornate tiling and the dreamy Old Quarter make it every bit as picturesque as the likes of Paris or Barcelona. It’s coastal, too, so there are beaches to sprawl on when the sightseeing is done: Beach No. 19 is gay and nude, so don’t be shy. When it comes to resting your weary head, The Late Birds Lisbon is housed in a late 18th-century building in the centre of the city and was created as “an urban resort for the gay male community”. There’s a lounge, garden and swimming pool to share with likeminded guests, while the best suite (only 220 euros per night) comes with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a private terrace and views over the river.
The mass shooting that took place at Pulse nightclub in 2016 was catastrophic for Orlando’s reputation as a gay mecca. But its draw – endless days of sunshine and wild theme parks – is as strong as ever, and gay travellers have been returning to show strength and support. Gay Days at Disney World is the best time to go, attracting over 150,000 to the signature event on the first Saturday in June. After a day in the Magic Kingdom, retire to the seriously well-appointed accommodation at the Delaney Hotel, a boutique property opening late 2018. It’ll have just 54 rooms and a prime location in trendy downtown. Don’t leave without watching Orlando Pride at the new 25,000-seat Multipurpose Soccer Stadium – the all-female soccer team has just joined the National Women’s Soccer League.
They finally said “yes” – and it’s about time. Now that same-sex couples can tie the knot, the time to go to Oz is right now. Sydney has long been the gay capital with a thriving LGBTQ scene and its famous Mardi Gras, but Melbourne’s queer credentials are seriously heating up. City-fringe neighbourhoods like South Yarra and Collingwood have become hotspots complete with avant-garde galleries, bars and coffee shops, while Fitzroy in the city-centre is home to “gay Melbourne” nightlife. Hit the dance floor at the Laird, famous for its men-only policy, and hunker down at the QT Hotel with industrial chic interiors and a fashionable rooftop bar.
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